Interdisciplinary Research Building

Howard University
Washington, District Of Columbia, USA

Conceptually, Howard University's Interdisciplinary Research Building (IRB) endeavors to harmonize with surrounding architecture, but with a modern twist, representing the advanced technologies and groundbreaking research occurring inside. The use of terra cotta panels on the façade and in the lobby provides a connection to the traditional, Georgian-style masonry buildings on campus. The ribbed texture on the panels mimics traditional African textiles and art, associating the building material with Howard's heritage as an African American university.

The IRB forges a connection between the community and the science and research being performed in the building. At the corner of Georgia Avenue and W Street, the office cube appears to float over the sidewalk, giving passersby the impression of walking through the building, and inviting the public inside. The energy efficient glass curtain walls in the labs allow pedestrians to glimpse research activities conducted within the building, creating an engaging atmosphere.

The IRB is designed to house the university's core science and research facilities, and will serve as a catalyst to spur development of the southern end of the university's central campus. As part of the Howard's Academic Renewal Program, the design will respect their legacy, and bring to fruition a 21st century academic vision that affirms the university's preeminence in research-focused higher learning.

The IRB is an energy efficient facility (LEED rating pending), which incorporates cutting-edge technology with the latest educational, environmental, and research standards. The building's wet and dry labs, cleanroom, and offices accommodate and promote interdisciplinary research and collaboration between scientists, engineers, and academics. Ground floor retail faces Georgia Avenue, and amenities such as a 200+ seat auditorium, café, high performance computer center, and visitor areas offer space for formal and informal interaction, as well as research display areas.


  • 2015 Honor Award - American Institute of Architects (AIA) New Jersey chapter
  • Sustainable Features: LEED Registered
  • Type of Construction: New Construction
  • Size: 81,000 SF (7,520 m²)
  • Professional Services: Architecture, Engineering, Laboratory Design
  • Project Components: Biology Laboratory, Chemistry Laboratory, Classroom, Cleanroom, Offices, Retail
  • Project Type: Academic Building, Life Science, Research Laboratory, Science + Technology
  • Related Projects: Academic, Architecture, Life Sciences, Research, Science & Technology